Archive for the ‘bds’ category

Are Israeli vote-bots skewing an Irish ‘Boycott Eurovision’ poll?

June 16, 2018

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A poll published yesterday, Friday 15th June, on TheJournal.ie website asking the question “Do you think RTÉ should boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Israel next year?” has seen some interesting results.

As of 12pm today, Saturday 16th June, the results stand at No: 50% Yes: 46% Don’t Know: 2%

This is a remarkable turnaround, as until yesterday afternoon, the vote was holding steady at between 70% – 67% Yes.

This figure is in line with all other polls run by TheJournal.ie on the question of matters related to Palestine. For example, in May this year TheJournal asked “Do you think Ireland should expel its Ambassador to Israel over Palestinian deaths in the Gaza Strip?” The results were Yes: 67% No: 27% Don’t Know: 4% In July 2014 it asked a similar question, “Would you support the expelling of the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland?”. Again, the results were Yes: 66% No: 27% Don’t Know: 5% In September 2011 it asked ‘Should Ireland support Palestine’s bid for full UN membership?’ Once again, the results: Yes: 71% No: 14% Not Yet: 9% Don’t Know: 3%

One slight outlier was a poll in July 2014 that asked “Should Irish politicians come back to debate the Israel-Gaza crisis?”, although not in the same range, a clear majority of 56% said Yes, only 40% said No and 2% Didn’t Know.

Taking an average of the ‘pro-Palestine’ vote for those four previous polls, we get a solid majority of 65%. Leaving out the somewhat ambiguous question about politicians coming back to debate the issue, we get 68%. So, basically,  a 68% – 65% pro-Palestine majority.

Yet in yesterday’s poll, there is only a 45% ‘pro-Palestine’ vote. (Note, the No vote has reached 51% in the hour it has taken me to write this far).

Something smells, no? Something smells distinctly like a hasbara attack.

Let’s look at the numbers involved here. Taking a random sample of ‘popular’ daily polls on TheJournal.ie over the past month, we find an average of 13,917 votes. By far the most ‘popular’ polls are those around topics like abortion, benefits and rickshaw regulation. The most voted-on poll, with 16,321 respondents, asked whether those in receipt of child benefits should be means tested.

Yet this poll has a whopping 24,623 respondents, which will probably reach 25,000 by the time I finish writing.  That’s over 10,000 more votes than the average number of votes for any poll on TheJournal.ie, and 8,300 more than the other most voted-on poll of recent weeks.

Now, if we knock off these roughly 8,300 ‘excess’ votes two interesting things happen.

  • We get a vote figure of roughly 16,000 respondents – broadly in line with the normal votes for the most ‘popular’ topics on TheJournal.ie.
  • If we assume these excess votes are going into the ‘No’ side (which they clearly are – the ‘No side is gaining at roughly 1.5% point per hour) and we thus eliminate them, we get a ‘Yes’ figure of … 69%. A figure totally in line with the historic average of pro-Palestine votes on TheJournal.ie.

Now, Isn’t that interesting?

So what’s going on? The high ‘No’ vote rate – which continued overnight and into a second day with no sign of letting up (most TheJournal.ie polls die out after a day or so) would suggest either an organised campaign of Israel’s supporters outside of Ireland (the idea that Israeli Apartheid has 12,000+ dedicated supporters in Ireland is laughable) – and we know that these campaigns exist. Another possibility is that of automated ‘vote-bots’ being used.

In all likelihood, it is a combination of both, but the consistency of the No voting would suggest it is mainly bots. This is interesting (and worrying), because while we hear so much about alleged Russian online interference in democracies – we hear little to nothing about similar interference by Israel and its appendages in the Zionist lobby groups. It would certainly be interesting to see a breakdown of the countries from which IP addresses voted, something which a colleague of mine has asked TheJournal.ie to release…

It does, however, show that the Eurovision issue is really rattling Israel. The apartheid state is desperate to host it to legitimise their colonisation of occupied Jerusalem, so recently endorsed by the Trump regime, but rejected by most EU nations. So desperate some have suggested that the Eurovision popular vote was gamed – though having no real expertise in such matters, I cannot comment. In response to a 26,000 strong petition in Iceland calling for a boycott, the Israeli Consul met with the head of Iceland’s state broadcasting company RÚV to express concern. The EBU – the Eurovision’s governing body – has been making noises about not wanting it held in Jerusalem. Isreal’s Culture Minister, the deeply uncultured Miri Regev, has said that if the competition is not held in Jerusalem then Israel shouldn’t host it at all. It is an issue that is affecting their attempts to art-wash the oppression of Palestinians.

Take Action

In Ireland, in response to the call from Palestinian artists, journalists and civil society groups, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Trade Union Friends of Palestine and PalFest Ireland are starting a campaign to have Ireland boycott the 2019 competition if it is held in Israel – PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION ONLINE HERE.

Other follow up actions are being prepared, keep an eye on www.ipsc.ie or join the IPSC Mailing List for updates.

Update: At the time of publication, 2pm today, Saturday 16th June, the results stand at No: 51% Yes: 45% Don’t Know: 2%

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Huge explosion and fire in illegal Israeli chemical factory in Tulkarm on Thursday night

September 6, 2013

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According to a Palestinian news report from the Al Fajer TV website (Arabic, with lots of images) and eyewitnesses on the ground, late Thursday night there was a massive explosion followed by a huge fire in an illegal Israeli industrial area located beside the Palestinian city of Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank.

At the time of writing (10pm, a day later), for some reason there has been no English language reporting about this event. I am hearing via a friend visiting Palestine that residents have been advised by local television reports to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioning.

I do not speak Arabic, so the following report is compiled by using Google Translate – apologies in advance for any errors.

Explosion, fire and aftermath

The Al Fajer report says that a large cloud of smoke covered the sky of the city and the villages of Tulkarem last night, after a huge fire broke out in a nylon factory in the illegal Israeli industrial area Nizanei Shalom, west of Tulkarm. Nizanei Shalom (which means ‘Buds of Peace’ in Hebrew) is a controversial – even by illegal settlement standards – area, which houses a number of Israeli industrial and chemical plants.

A big explosion echoed from inside the industrial zone at 11pm on Thursday night, resulting in a dramatic fire and a two hour power outage for residents on the outskirts of the city.

Palestinian civil defence crews and medical staff were scrambled to the west of the the city to check on the health of citizens and provide them with protection, under the direction of Tulkarm’s Director General of Health, Saed Hanoun.

Incredibly, witnesses in the vicinity of the industrial zone reported that there was a large presence of Israeli occupation forces in the area, and military patrols fired tear gas canisters at local people who went to see what was occurring.

Firefighters worked throughout the night and the fire was largely extinguished in the early hours of the morning. However, Fulla Jallad, a local Palestinian woman told me that “the structure is still on fire and the smoke is obviously [still] poisoning the air”.

Health and environmental hazards

Palestinian Officials have warned of health and the environment hazards in Tulkarem citizens in the city. The have called on those living near factories to get out of their homes because of the serious consequences resulting from the thick smoke and the rain of falling ash in the aftermath, which constitute a potential danger to public health and the environment.

One local Palestinian official, Jamal Said, told the official PA news service Wafa that they had long warned of the danger of these plants to the health of citizens, due to emissions of serious toxins, adding that the seriousness of this fire lies not only in the phenomenal amount of smoke, but in the explosions of which there were several inside from inside the plant because of the huge fire.

Mr. Said added that the fire was out of control, and pointed out that the Israelis occupation forces had requested help from the Palestinian civil defence crews, who had put their priorities in the protection of Palestinian citizens and property in the western and southern region near the industrial zone

Mr. Said stressed the need for immediate intervention of the international community to ensure that these dangerous plants are fully removed from the Tulkarm area.

The Legal Counsel of the Environmental Quality Authority in Tulkarem, Mr. Murad, said that he had warned of the warning of the danger of these plants during a workshop held in Tulkarem only two days ago, and he called on all international bodies to assume their responsibilities towards what is happening as a result of the dangerous environmental contamination in the Tulkarem area. He said that this fire is clear evidence that Tulkarm is exposed to environmental dangers due to the burning of toxic substances, calling on citizens to beware of the smoke.

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Nizanei Shalom – One of Israel’s toxic little West Bank secrets

Initially based in Israel, several of the Nizanei Shalom, aka Geshuri, industrial park’s current inhabitants were closed down by Israeli court order for pollution violations during the 1980s. In 1987 Geshuri Industries, a manufacturer of pesticides and fertilizers originally located in Kfar Saba, was the first to relocate, moving their Keshet Prima factory there after closure by Israeli authorities earlier that decade. The Dixon industrial gas plants, formerly of Netanya industrial zone in Israel, followed and now there are almost a dozen such factories in this industrial zone, including Atzei Shitim, The Solor Group and Yamit E.L.I. Filtration and Water Treatment. According to a report by RT, the factories produce fibres, chemicals, glass, paint and materials for construction, and they operate 24 hours a day.

Many of the factories have come under severe criticism for both their environmental records and the treatment of their mainly Palestinian workforces.

Tulkarm’s General Director of Health, Saed Hanoun says that industrial by-products of these factories are dangerous to the health of citizens and the environment because of the damage caused by the vapours, which may be responsible for some serious diseases developing amongst the population, and he added that these “plants should be removed immediately as they internationally prohibited”. Nor is this the first such explosion and fire; in an interview with RT in 2009, Mr. Hanoun said that for three days that May, thick clouds hung over Tulkaram after a previous explosion in one of the factories.

According to Irish activist-journalist Tommy Donnellan, who visited the area in 2010, and documented local people’s stories on video, “[the lands] in the immediate vicinity of the factory have been polluted to the point where they are no longer agriculturally viable. Trees in the area are decaying; those that remain alive exhibit stunted growth. Pollution from the factory also widely affects other agricultural land in Tulkarm and has seeped into underground water sources in the area. Noxious carcinogenic fumes from the Geshuri [Keshet Prima] factory have also adversely affected the health of the population. Respiratory problems and eye infections, which are most likely to afflict the very young and elderly, are the most commonly reported problems. It is also believed by medical experts that the pollution caused by the plant has led to cancer cases, although to confirm this no studies have been carried out to date”.

Mr Donnella also said that the “chemical complex is beyond the control and power of the [Palestinian Authority] as the Israeli occupying [so-called] ‘Civil Administration’ watch over and protect it – where for 11 months of the year the prevailing west to east winds blow the emissions into Tulkakem and in the one month when the winds shift direction and blow from east to west into Israel the factories cease their carcinogenic activities”.

One worker in the zone, Ahmed, interviewed by Corporate Watch, also in 2010, has stated that the “factories are dangerous in that they pollute the environment … they are also unsafe for the workers, they do not adhere to any health and safety regulations as they are based in occupied territory and there is nothing to protect workers. Accidents are common”.

Workers’ and locals’ rights abused and safety compromised

Another worker, Rashid, went on to say that the “Solor factory is very unsafe. Three workers have died – in 2000, 2002 and 2008 – from burns sustained from gas related fires at the factory” and that “Solor workers receive 90 shekels a day, well under the Israeli minimum wage. Before we started to organise in the factory we were paid 65 shekels a day”.

Indeed, the area can also be more immediately dangerous to those not even working vicinity. According to the General Union of Petrochemical Workers in Palestine, a young man, 18-year-old Hamza Walid Haloub, was seriously wounded by live army fire in March this year while walking near the industrial park. Dr. Khaled Saleh of Thabet Thabet Hospital said a bullet punctured his lung and the injury was so serious that Mr. Haloub had to be transferred to Nablus hospital for emergency treatment.

A microcosm of the iniquity of the occupation

Nizanei Shalom is a microcosm of the iniquity of Israel’s occupation; local Palestinians were forced from their lands in the 1980s so that illegal building could begin; the zone exploits the far cheaper Palestinian labour force, so economically crippled by decades of occupation that they have little choice but to work under awful conditions; in practice, a separate legal/safety system exists than inside Israel, with these highly polluting factories are given the all clear by Israeli authorities; the result is that it is the Palestinians of Tulkarm who suffer the environmental, economic and health problems and dangers arising from the operations of the plants. And Nizanei Shalom is not the only such zone, there are several in the occupied West Bank, pointing to the importance and inextricable nature of these parks for the Israeli economy.

The existence of these illegal colonial settlement-factories are war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and should be shut down on that basis alone. That they are highly dangerous and possibly in contravention of international pollution standards should add an urgency for the international community to take immediate meaningful action to ensure that they are.

Al Haq video about the Nizanei Shalom industrial zone

Israeli Deputy Ambassador/Culture Officer in Dublin advocates intimidation and smearing human rights activists; suggests humiliating them by associating them with Mossad and ‘sexual identity problems’

June 13, 2012

In an exposé by Israel’s Channel 10 News, it has been revealed that Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Ireland, Nurit Tinari-Modai, advocates a campaign of intimidation, smears and falsification against Israeli human rights activists who campaign in solidarity with Palestinians, and suggests that “sexual identity problems” lie behind such activism. (Press Release from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – original here)

Ms. Tinari-Modai, who is also the Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy in Ireland and wife of the current Ambassador Boaz Modai, made the proposals in a diplomatic communiqué sent to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. According to the Channel 10 report, translated into English by Dena Shunra, Ms. Modai advocates working “directly against those Israeli activists, [to] humiliate and shame them”. She suggests publishing the names and photographs of Israeli activists to embarrass their family and friends, and implying that they are agents of Mossad to undermine trust between Palestinian, international and Israeli solidarity activists.

Ms Tinari-Modai’s cable says that “it is possible to obtain names of the Israelis… you have to try and hit their soft underbellies, to publish their photographs, maybe that will cause embarrassment from their friends in Israel and their family, hoping that local activists would understand that they may actually be working on behalf of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency].”

Ms Tinari-Modai also goes on to make the bizarre claim that “the activity of those activists against the state is, in my evaluation, not necessarily ideological, but grounded in psychological reasons (generally of disappointment with the parents, [or] sexual identity problems).”

Martin O’Quigley, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) condemned the proposals saying, “this type of behaviour is indicative of the mindset of apologists for Apartheid Israel. They have no legal, political or moral arguments. Instead of questioning Israel’s illegal actions and occupation, they opt to attack human rights activists’ characters and motivations. Such tactics fit with the recommendations of the Reut Institute, an Israeli government-linked think-tank, which advocates a campaign of ‘sabotage’, ‘attack’ and ‘naming and shaming’ against Palestinian solidarity activists. While the Israeli Foreign Ministry has distanced itself from the proposals, calling them “deranged”, it is hard to believe this is a serious disavowal – more likely it is because the cable was leaked to the press and has become a political embarrassment.”

Mr. O’Quigley called for the Irish Government to take action on the issue. “That these kind of proposals are being seriously touted by the Israeli Embassy in Ireland is incredibly worrying, and the Irish government should, at the very least, demand Ms. Modai be withdrawn immediately. Support for such intimidatory behaviour, interference and personalised attacks on human rights activists by a foreign diplomatic mission should be unacceptable in a democratic and sovereign country.”

Mr O’Quigley pointed out that Ms. Modai has been a prominent opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. “As Culture Officer of the Israeli Embassy, Ms. Tinari-Modai has been a vocal opponent of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel. Indeed, Ms. Modai organised an Israeli Embassy sponsored propaganda film festival in Dublin last year, which was attended by both An Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Justice and Defence Alan Shatter”.

Mr. O’Quigley concluded by saying that “in recent weeks, there has been an unprecedented attack on both the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) in the Irish media, much of it based on inaccurate and misleading reporting. These attacks have often been highly personalised against individual IPSC members. While this would fit with the modus operandi of the Israeli Embassy, whether or not the embassy has influenced such reporting is impossible to say. However, there is no doubt that the Israeli Embassy can only have been happy with the skewed misrepresentation of the campaign.”

Ali Abunimah, Palestinian author and human rights activist noted that “Nurit Tinari-Modai’s emphasis on alleged “sexual identity problems” of those to be smeared, indicates an innate homophobia that is at odds with Israel’s efforts – known as pinkwashing – to portray itself as supportive of the rights of people who identify as LGBTQ.”

Notes:

The Channel 10 News report (text and video in Hebrew only) can be viewed here: http://news.nana10.co.il/Article/?ArticleID=903347

A professional translation of the report is published here on Electronic Intifada: http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israels-dublin-embassy-planned-smear-palestine-activists-sexual-deviants-and

A second translation from Hebrew can be found here on the Israeli website 972 Magazine: http://972mag.com/deputy-ambassador-to-ireland-pro-palestinian-activists-have-sexual-identity-problems/48180/

For more information on the Reut Institute, see: http://electronicintifada.net/tags/reut-institute

Audio: Discussion with ISM founders Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro

February 24, 2012

Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign has posted the audio I recorded of last night’s discussion with with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

The discussion followed the very successful première screening of the new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson, and was part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012 in Ireland.

Copied from the IPSC website:

On Thursday 23rd February, as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) was proud to present the Irish Premiere of the brand new film ‘Roadmap to Apartheid’ by film-makers Ana Nogueira & Eron Davidson.

The 90 minute documentary film, takes a look at the current situation in Palestine through the lens of South African Apartheid; comparing the two regimes in a manner not flattering for the Israeli state. It is narrated by US Civil Rights icon Alice Walker, and features interviews with many Palestinian, Israeli, South African and international activists, journalists and academics. The film was well received by the audience of over 60 people, even receiving an ovation at the end. The film is due to be released in the coming months and will be making appearances (and hopefully winning deserved awards) at various international film festivals. You can view the film trailer below, and if you missed it don’t worry, the IPSC will be organising future screenings of this brilliant film around the country.

Following the film, there was a discussion with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro (audio recording below), two of the founders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes non-violent resistance to Israeli Apartheid. It was a wide ranging discussion that encompassed everything from Palestinian refugees to the ‘Arab Spring’.

Click here to download an audio recording of the Q&A with Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf (mp3). Disclaimer: Views expressed in the discussion do not necessarily reflect the view of the IPSC.

A section of the audience

Special thanks: The IPSC would like to thank the directors of Roadmap to Apartheid Ana and Eron for allowing us to screen their film as part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2012, and Huwaida and Adam for stepping in at the last minute when Iyad Burnat’s tour had to be cancelled.

Non-Judeo Christians unwelcome at “Faces of Israel” hasbara event?

February 20, 2012

And so, Ireland finds itself in the hasbara gun-sight once again.

A story appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Times (19/02/2012,  Irish edition) proclaiming that an Israeli hasbara “charm offensive” would be touring Ireland beginning on Thursday. The mission will involve six “young Israeli representatives”, “backed by the Israeli government” and in association with Tom Carew’s “Ireland Israel Friendship League”, engaging in a speaking tour of Ireland.  Although the article is scant on actual details, it does say that both the UCD International Students Society and the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel will be hosting some of their talks (though they have yet to appear on either website – maybe they don’t want people turning up asking difficult questions?).

However, someone sent me the following event listing, organised by the Irish Christian Friends of Israel. This event, hosted by a group who believe “the Biblical truth that God gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people forever” (so, two-statist ‘moderates’ then),  forms part of the “Faces of Israel” tour. Of particular note is the line stating that, “Jews and Christians are ALL welcome”. Really? Is this to say that people of other faiths, and none, are not welcome at an event allegedly showcasing “how Israel comprises many diverse cultures and nationalities”? Doubly surprising given that over 1 million Palestinian citizens of Israel are of Muslim origin.

On a “diversity” buzz, it appears that this tour’s veritable jewel in the hasbara crown is the inclusion of an “Arab Israeli” (Palestinian citizen of Israel – PCOI) woman called Raneen Khoury. Although the Times article calls her a “member of the Israeli police”, the ICFI description is different, stating that:

Born and raised in the city of Nazareth, Raneen has lived in the midst of Israeli co-existence, always trying to progress Arab – Jewish relations within Israel through various co-existence projects such as the establishment of the National Service Organization. Currently she is the manager of “Lehava” project whose aim is to decrease the digital gap within Israeli society.


It appears that Ms. Khoury, a Christian Palestinian, is involved in recruiting PCOIs into the National Service (Sherut Leumi), an alternative for those who do not wish to serve in the Israeli Military. All Jewish-Israelis are conscripted into the military after leaving school, but some can opt for other means of serving the state instead. PCOIs are exempt from the military draft. As of 2010, there were 1,473 PCOIs volunteering for National Service, 0.12% of the total PCOI population. Clearly, Ms. Khoury is representative of the average Palestinian citizen of Israel, and will indeed champion their cause as a heavily discriminated-against section of the Israeli population (20%) as part of this mission.

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EDIT 24-02-2012:
I have been contacted by the author of the original Sunday Times article, Mr. Mark Paul. He asked me to clarify that he never mentioned Ms. Khoury by name. This is true, and my assertion was based on extrapolating from the ICFI description and the Times article. The article says “six young Israelis” are visiting, five Jewish-Israeli and one “Arab Israeli”. The ICFI claims that Ms. Khoury is speaking at their event, so I put two and two together and came up with five and for that I apologise. It seems the information on the ICFI website is error, not the Times article, as having had a “chance” encounter with the six-strong hasbara team today, Ms. Khoury was not present as far as I could tell, but another Palestinian Citizen of Israel was (more on that in another post).
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Another minority included in the entourage is one Hadas Yossef, an Ethiopian Jew who was brought to Israel in 1983, presumably as part of Operation Moses.  According to the IsraelPolitick blog (an official Israeli Foreign Ministry website):

After completing her studies in Architecture at the Bezalel High Institute for Arts, Hadas began working as a professional architect at one of the biggest firms in Israel.

As with Ms. Khoury, I think, given that some 60% of Ethiopian Jews live below the poverty line and are subject to disgusting forms of racism, Ms. Yossef is not entirely representative of the experiences of her community within Israel either. It’s like pointing at Barack Obama and saying “look, institutional racism doesn’t exist in the US any more”.

In the interview, Mr. Adam Briscoe is at pains to point out that the “Faces of Israel” initiative “operates independently of the [Israeli] government”. This claim is disgustingly laughable. Not only because it is contradicted by his the very next sentence, to whit: “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year by Yuli Edelstein the Israeli minister for public diplomacy [hasbara]”; but also because the Israeli press has been touting these guys as being sent by the government! As an article in yesterday’s Jerusalem Post explains:

The Public Diplomacy [Hasbara] Ministry plans to send 100 Israelis from different sectors in society abroad to represent and defend the state during Israel Apartheid Week.

The participants in the project have undergone several weeks of training in the Public Diplomacy Ministry, and will visit dozens of college campuses to battle the “apartheid” label in New York, Boston, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Toronto, Montreal, Dublin, London, Madrid, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Indeed, according to the Times article, another of the participants, Sari Diskind, actually works in the office of the Israeli Prime Minster.

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EDIT 2: 24-02-2012:
Mr. Mark Paul of the Times has also asked me to clarify that Mr. Briscoe did not say that “it was born out of an idea publicly touted last year…” and that was in fact Mr. Paul’s balancing of Briscoe’s comments. Fair enough, but I think it was worded (or perhaps edited, as a journalist I know the pain of the editor’s knife) in a clumsy way, such that a cursory reading would suggest the whole comment came from Briscoe.
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Not only that, these same characters could be considered old hands at this type of thing, given that some of them have done it all before, in (at least) February and September of last year. And one can bet they are not paying for this out of their own pockets.

The Jerusalem Post also tells us that the “mission, which leaves next weekend, includes settlers, Arabs, artists, experts in national security, gay people, and immigrants from Ethiopia”.

Conspicuously absent from this list of advocates are any representatives of the Palestinian community of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the occupied Syrian Druze community, the internally displaced Palestinians within Israel, the Bedouin community currently undergoing ethnic cleansing, gay Palestinians blackmailed by the Israeli secret police, the external Palestinian refugee community, or even anti-occupation Jewish-Israelis. Clearly in it’s desire to show us the rainbows of diversity in Israeli society – and given that illegal settler voices are included, presumably the lovely conditions under which all people in the territories controlled by Israel live – the Israeli Ministry of Hasbara feels it is necessary to exclude “unimportant” voices, i.e. ones that might call a spade a spade and say, “Israeli is an apartheid state”.

And ultimately, that is what this mission is all about. This week in Ireland, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other groups are taking part in international Israeli Apartheid Week 2012. According to the IPSC website:

Israeli Apartheid Week is an annual international series of events held across the globe. The aim is to educate people about the nature of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinian people and to build the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement locally and globally. Last year, IAW took place in over 60 cities across the globe. (Full list of Irish IAW week events here)

I think it is a tribute to the work of Palestine Solidarity activists in Ireland that the Hasbaristas feel it necessary to send a delegation that is definitely, definitely, not sponsored by the Israeli government to come here and lie for them. Keep up the good work folks.

Of course, what the Israeli government seems loathe to accept that it is not better PR tactics that are needed to improve the state’s image, it is an end to apartheid, occupation, human rights violations and war crimes!

(Update 21/02/2012: Thanks to Irish Left Review for re-blogging this piece)

Normalising Apartheid: The Israeli parliamentary visit to Ireland

January 25, 2012

Yesterday, Irish Left Review published a piece I wrote concerning the recent Israeli hasbara mission to Ireland. Entitled, ‘Normalising Apartheid: The Israeli Parliamentary Visit to Ireland’ it analyzes the visit in the context of the Irish government’s apparent warming to the Apartheid state of Israel. You can read it (and leave comments) online by clicking here.

EXCERPT:This visit, the highest profile Israeli state visit in over 25 years, was part of an ongoing attempt to normalise the abnormal, i.e., the apartheid policies of the Israeli state directed against the Palestinian people. Such visits – including the official welcomes by both the Dail and Seanad, along with high profile political meetings – serve only to legitimise Israel’s apartheid regime and associated breaches of international law. They portray serious and grave breaches of international law not as clear-cut issues where there are perpetrators and victims, but as disputed issues that are open for “debate between democratic countries… – Read More.

Photo Credit: Fatin Al Tamimi

A rambling interview with yours truly

January 25, 2012

At a leafletting action outside Ana Moura’s performance at Dublin’s National Concert Hall (Ana is planning on playing in Tel Aviv, ignoring the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel), a camera was stuck in my face and this normally camera shy guy rambled on about Palestine, Israel, BDS, the EU and the Irish Labour Party for a good twenty minutes. The results can viewed below (starts at the 4.30 minute mark)…

(This is post #50, and its only taken me about four years…)